Suhrith Parthasarathy | Advocate practising at the Madras High Court
Gautam Bhatia | Delhi-based lawyer
Apar Gupta | Executive director, Internet Freedom Foundation
The writers argue that the government’s technological solutions don’t meet ‘minimum’ legal requirements. They agree that this pandemic, which is an existential threat, requires the need to save lives above all else. However, any temporary measure imposed has a “disturbing habit” of lodging into the landscape, creating a “new normal” after the crisis is over. They argue that the government’s contact-tracing application, Aarogya Setu, shows “worrying parallels” with the Aadhaar project, “like Aadhaar it increasingly seems that the application will be used as an object of coercion”.
Sanjay Jha | Water resources minister in the Bihar government
Jha writes about how Bihar became the “first state” to respond to the needs of its stranded migrant workers. The state’s water resources minister says that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had not only asked officials to remit direct bank transfers (DBT) of Rs 1,000 to workers stranded outside the state but also launched helpline numbers. Moreover, Jha states, that the Bihar government set up relief measures at state borders for these migrant workers, community quarantine centres in villages and ensured that the government schemes absorbed as many number of returning migrants as possible for employment.
Ayaz Memon | Sports journalist and commentator
Memon writes that amid the Covid-19 pandemic, sports players are “anxious” as all events stand cancelled, there are huge financial losses and the future is unpredictable. Memon says that as time spent in isolation increases, it reveals “growing anxiety”. He argues that the psychological impact goes deeper than just missing a few games — “it could scar them for life”. Memon says that this is especially stark as 2020 was supposed to be a “golden year” for sports with the Tokyo Olympics and T20 Cricket World Championship but now the year can only be described as “annus horribilis” for sports.
Christophe Jaffrelot | Senior research fellow at CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS, Paris
Jean Thomas Martelli | Researcher at the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH) in New Delhi
The Indian Express
The writers say that in the context of the coronavirus crisis, political decisions are presented as “instruments of warfare”. They argue that at the national level, the crisis “consolidates a populist rapport between a person — Modi — and a fictional representation of the people”. They note that several aspects of the Covid-19 management by Modi confirms the “populist” rooting of Indian democracy. The authors write that the announcement of all major decisions by Modi himself via visual mediums and the fact that most of the briefings are made by a joint secretary, maintains an “unmediated connection between the ruler and the ruled”. This, the writers argue, is a “one-way traffic” with no press conference and parliamentary debate creating space for questioning the crisis management.
Arun Maira | Former member of the Planning Commission
The Indian Express
Maira writes that the recovery from Covid-19 crisis is an opportunity to “create economies that are more resilient and fair” and for which, three principles must apply. The first principle is to replace economies of “scale” by economies of “scope”. He explains that local economic webs must be strengthened as economies where local producers obtain scale (and lower costs) by supplying products to global markets, are vulnerable to shutdown. The second is the necessity for a local system solutions for global systematic problems, like on-ground community action in India through organisations promoting collaborative action. The third principle is to empower people, which is the fundamental requirement for a “genuine democracy”, writes Maira.
Yashwant Sinha | BJP Member & Former Minister of Finance
Vinay K. Srivastava | Teaches finance at ITS Ghaziabad
Sinha and Srivastava write that the pandemic is estimated to cause an even bigger loss to the global economy than the Great Depression 90 years ago. They predict that a complete lockdown would lead to a collapse of production for many more months. They argue that the governments must consider suggestions made by Amartya Sen, Abhijit Banerjee and Raghuram Rajan, to deal with the economic fallout. Moreover, we cannot continue with this lockdown indefinitely. India must use the World Bank’s formula, which is to protect the poorest, support and save jobs and implement emergency health operations.
R. Jagannathan | Editorial director, Swarajya Magazine
Jagannathan argues that it is premature to talk about which containment model works best since it’s only been four months into a full-blown Covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, the specific factors that help a country arrest the spread of the virus may not be replicated in other countries due to varying political, social and economic factors. He suggests that it is best to flag best practises but there is no reason to call a model exemplary.
Manish Sabharwal | Teamlease Services
Shantanu Rooj | Schoolguru Eduserve
The Financial Express
Sabharwal and Rook argue that India’s current online university regulations are creating an apartheid by allowing only seven out of 993 universities to launch online course. It exposes the “folly and unfairness” of the UGC 2018 online regulations. They maintain that if we don’t act quickly, India’s online university education will become like Wimbledon, which is played in England but no Britisher ever wins. UGC had banned online education in 2015 but then notified new licensing guidelines in 2018. They question why there was a need to distinguish between licensing for paper-based distance learning and online learning.
The Indian Express: School education is not getting the attention it deserves during this lockdown, writes Express. Schools are in urgent need of support from the government and the IT industry. Limited bandwidth, personal computers and phones unequal to professional work and the gap in online classrooms are some of the problems being faced by both teachers and students. The daily suggests that state-backed television and community radio can help to bridge this divide temporarily.
Hindustan Times: The Health Ministry’s suggestion to be in home-isolation for patients who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, is a welcome move, writes HT. Health systems across the world are already stressed and if cases surge, India will not have adequate infrastructure to deal with the crisis. Therefore home isolation can provide a much-needed breather to India’s health system, the daily comments.
With inputs from Bismee Taskin